Hospital on Front line of heroin problem - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Hospital staff on front line of heroin problem

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At one ER a doctor said they see 3 to 4 heroin overdose cases a day. At one ER a doctor said they see 3 to 4 heroin overdose cases a day.
Dr. Eric Fulcher Dr. Eric Fulcher
Doctors said the drug builds tolerance quickly, needing bigger doses for a high. Too much-- and the body shuts down. Doctors said the drug builds tolerance quickly, needing bigger doses for a high. Too much-- and the body shuts down.
Diane Hague Diane Hague

LOUSIVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Doctors and nurses at local emergency rooms are fighting on the front lines of a heroin epidemic.

"We are seeing three, four heroin overdoses a day just in our department," said St. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital Emergency Department Director Dr. Eric Fulcher.

Doctors said the drug builds tolerance quickly, needing bigger doses for a high. Too much-- and the body shuts down.

"You're breathing slowing down or stopping, your heart slowing down or stopping, and at that point, it's a lethal overdose," Fulcher explained.

He said the deadly drug is barley giving life a chance. Patients are pulling up to the ER already having turned blue.

"We've got the medicine that we stick in your nose while your in the car while we try to get the oxygen to you," he said.  

At the Jefferson Alcohol and Drug Abuse Center, the staff has noticed an uptick in the last couple of years since prescription pills became harder to get. They pointed to another problem, today's new heroin users are just in their 20's.

"They don't understand all the dangers really," said the center's director Diane Hague.

Their age makes them more vulnerable than those who used the drug in the 80's.

"There's a huge difference between a 19, 20, 23-year-old than a 30-year-old. Huge difference, and that's what makes the road to recovery so difficult," she said.

Copyright 2013 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.

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